Will Conventional Wisdom Prevent the Success of Your Brand?

Whether you’re an avid baseball fan, reader, or movie buff you’re probably familiar with the term “Moneyball,” which changed the business of baseball through the sole fact that it challenged conventional wisdom.

The premise of the book/film Moneyball is that the collected wisdom of baseball insiders over the past century is highly subjective and often flawed. Statistics such as batting average runs batted in (RBIs) and stolen bases, standard metrics used to gauge players, are relics of a 19th-century view of the game and the data available at that time.

The new analytical model introduced through Moneyball proved the historically valued qualities of player performance to be less relevant than a new set of metrics. These observations often flew in the face of conventional wisdom and the beliefs of many baseball scouts and executives (even to this day), leading to heated discussions and initial doubt around the overall concept.

By re-evaluating the strategies that produce wins on the field, a team with approximately $44 million in salary became competitive with larger market teams such as the New York Yankees, who spent over $125 million in payroll that same season.

The point: Moneyball is about how the use of nontraditional statistics allowed the Oakland A’s to uncover previously ‘unarticulated truths’ about player performance that gave them a competitive edge. Moneyball has come to mean being vigilant, reassessing, challenging assumptions and constraints to find a way that provides a competitive advantage.

You should care because to be a successful pharmaceutical marketer today you have to toss out conventional wisdom, creative and other biases in your approach to strategic brand positioning. These traditional approaches do not contribute to real commercial success in today’s highly dynamic and increasingly competitive marketplace.

David Ogilvy’s quote, “It isn’t creative unless it sells,” cries out for the corollary: “If the creative isn’t strategic, you won’t have many sales.” Creative must follow strategy; not drive it.

Brand positioning means differentiating your brand from the competition by defining the conceptual place you want to own in the target customer’s mind. Successful brand positioning maximizes relevancy, distinctiveness, connectedness, and commercial opportunity.

Brand differentiation is a 3-step process:

Step 1. Identify compelling insights. Insights that are grounded in emotional tensions – which resonate with prescribers, patients, and caregivers. From these critical insights positioning opportunities are identified, reduced to two or three top choices which are then expanded into brand stories. The conversation about your brand will not be about its TPP or positioning statement. If you’re testing either of these in support of your positioning, stop now!

Ok, this is a great first step. Unfortunately, too many brand teams try to validate brand stories via qualitative research, which yields a confidence level of maybe 70%. Not great because the brand team has not mitigated the potentially catastrophic risk of selecting the wrong brand story! We’ve seen this happen. That is why Step 2 must not be skipped.

Step 2. Validate each brand story. The correct way to understand /preview how your target audiences will respond to each brand story is through rigorous quantitative analysis. Our Prescribing Laboratory (a robust quantitative validation proven in over 450 initiatives) was specifically designed to help brand teams understand for which patient segments their brand will be prescribed, how prescribing will impact competitors and many other decision-shaping data points. Further, the brand team will recognize the corporate commitment each strategy will require.

Being mindful this, the brand team will select the data-driven brand story that best addresses their commercial needs. Once the brand team chooses the brand story, an Implementations Guidelines document is constructed for use as the creative brief for marketing and creative agencies.

This process helps to ensure that brand positioning options are thoroughly vetted then validated so that the brand team is alerted to the impact each potential positioning will have in the marketplace.

Often, there is a vast difference in impact between/among brand positioning options. This quantitative step is vital to mitigating the risk of choosing the wrong positioning as the choices can range from excellent to mediocre to devastating.

Step 3. Document everything with clarity and purpose. Ensure that all internal and external partners are aligned and clear. Make sure that the implementation and pull-through of all aspects of the creative execution align with positioning. Take the long-view and establish milestones along the brand trajectory. Assess regularly and course correct if evolving marketplace dynamics dictate.

These three steps will help maximize the commercial success of your brand.

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